Register to vote for real change, not populist empty promises – Mmusi Maimane

DA leader says populism might sound revolutionary, but it is real-world plans that solve problems

Register to vote for real change, not populist empty promises

2 August 2018

My fellow South Africans,

With only months to go until the election next year, it is important that we talk honestly and openly about the real choices each and every one of us will have to make.

I say “real” choices, because we need to distinguish fact from fiction. There is plenty of fiction going around these days, presented as election promises and even government policy.

Every day in every desperate community across our country we see and hear fantastical stories offered up by parties who have no intention of ever delivering on these promises.

Land, jobs, wealth, better services, free education – they make it sound so easy. But they never explain how they will deliver any of this from our shrinking economy, because they simply can’t.

This scramble for voter support by saying whatever despairing people want to hear, no matter how unachievable, has a name. It’s called populism. And typically, once voting day has come and gone, these pledges are discarded and forgotten until the next election.

Populism might sound revolutionary, but it is real-world plans that solve problems. And that’s why we need to separate fact from fiction before we go to the polls.

Fiction is when our president travels abroad, telling the world they must come and invest here, but back home he does everything he can to scare future investors off.

Fiction is when the ANC and EFF both try to convince desperate South Africans that land expropriation without compensation will somehow instantly improve their lives, when every shred of historical evidence says it will do the exact opposite.

Fiction is when the ANC government talks about turning our economy around and creating jobs, but then carries on doing exactly what got us into this trouble in the first place.

And believe me, we are in deep, deep trouble. Two days ago Stats SA released the latest jobs numbers – the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2018.

Officially, our unemployment rate went up to 27.2%, or 6.1 million South Africans. But forget about the official rate, because that doesn’t tell the full story. The official rate only includes people still actively looking for work.

If you’ve lost hope of ever finding a job and have given up looking, then you fall into the “expanded” definition of unemployment. And this number has now gone up to 37.2% of the working-age population.

A staggering 9.63 million South Africans who need to work and who want to work, cannot find work. That’s 154,000 more than in the first quarter of this year.

For those under 24 years old, the unemployment rate soars to 67.1%. Let that sink in: more than two thirds of our young people cannot find work.

This is the single biggest issue of our time. This will be what will make or break us as a nation. Because if we cannot find a way to put these young people in jobs, then there is no future for our country.

So these are our choices. We can either fool ourselves into believing the fiction that says the ANC and EFF’s plans of rampant nationalisation, expropriation and taxation will somehow miraculously do the opposite of what every expert is predicting, or we can deal in facts.

I am a facts person. I like to gather as much evidence as I can, listen to as many experts as I can, weigh up all the possible positive and negative outcomes and then make a decision based on these facts.

And the facts say that only through clean government, business-friendly policy and hard work will we turn our country around. This approach may not grab the headlines like the populists with their make-believe slogans do, but it’s the only one that will work.

The facts say that if we are to have any hope of creating jobs for the millions of unemployed South Africans, then it will have to happen through economic growth. Real growth of 5 or 6 or 7% per year, not the paltry 1.2% forecast for our economy.

The facts say that this growth is only possible through a flourishing private sector – businesses large and small – and not through an inefficient and corrupt state that owns and controls everything.

The facts say that threatening people’s property rights and expropriating their land leads to economic and agricultural collapse, as we saw in both Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

The facts say that people want dignity and freedom that come with employment, rather than dependence on the state.

The facts say that if you want to equip young people for the future, then excellence in education – and specifically in subjects like maths and science – is non-negotiable.

These are the facts, but you won’t find any of them in the populism of the ANC or the EFF. There you will only find pie-in-the-sky promises of free everything for everyone – promises that no one can possibly keep.

This is something young South Africans need to think about very carefully. If you are in your late teens or early twenties in this country, then you are in a population group that suffers the highest unemployment rate in the entire world.

But, at this age, you are also about to vote in your very first ever election. And this presents you with a powerful opportunity to tear up the miserable story written for you by this government, and to write your own future.

This is a rare and precious opportunity. If you don’t use it, then you will have wasted your best chance at changing the course of history for the better. And believe me, you will regret it.

But the first step is to ensure that your name appears correctly on the voter’s roll. Every election, thousands of young voters wake up too late and have to accept that their first ever election will take place without them.

Don’t let this happen to you. Take your ID document – either your green barcoded ID book or your ID smartcard – to an IEC office during office hours on weekdays where you will be asked to complete a registration form.

Make sure your name is on the roll. Make sure you get to participate in our democracy. Because the only way we will save our country from the corrupt and the selfish is if those with the most at stake play their part.

Issued by Mmusi MaimaneLeader of the Democratic Alliance, 2 August 2018